Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the futility of incarceration?

Seattle Weekly has a really thoughtful article this week on the issue of clemency and pardons, which is provocative in light of all the uproar over the Libby commutation this last week. As it turns out, people really do end up going to jail having been found guilty, or having pleaded guilty to, a crime they didn't commit. Surprise surprise. Furthermore, even when they *did* commit the crime--people actually change, and become (gasp!) different people as time goes by--sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the much much better. (Now that sounds astoundingly familiar to me for some reason.)

And as it turns out, the system for getting people out or letting them off is a mite (did I say "mite"?)--er, that is--is rather enormously sticky, and could do with a rather liberal coating of grease, IMNSHO.

I guess I'd rather see bad 'uns go free than see good 'uns locked up. It seems in this country, that's mostly just me. Oh well.

I guess it's mostly outta fear that we do it the way we do it, isn't it? Like the same fear that makes hundreds of people who are driving alone in multi passenger vehicles with hundreds of horsepower under their hoods pass up a hitchhiker. Enormously self centered fear. It's all American.

Seems like Jesus had some things to say along these lines. Like ... yer gonna be judged with the same judgment ya meet out. And God shall refuse to forgive ya 'less you forgive the ones who fucked things up for you. And stuff like that. So much for being a "Christian nation". But then we already knew that anyway, didn't we?

I've found another reason Clinton is my favorite recent president:

Total number of pardons, clemencies, and fine remissions per president:

  • George Bush: 117
  • Bill Clinton: 456
  • GHW Bush: 77
  • Ron Reagan: 406
  • Jimmy Carter: 566
  • Gerald Ford: 409
  • Richard Nixon: 926
  • Lyndon Johnson: 1187 (wow)
  • JFK: 575

I wonder what steps we could take to see these numbers ... say.... quadrupled?

According to Wikipedia, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country: a grand total of 7 million, or 2.3% Yukesola. We have 5% of the world population, and 25% of the world's incarcerated population.

7% of U.S. prisoners in one poll claimed they had been raped in their current facility.

Or check out this wee graphic

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